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CBR4 #42: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Oh, Stephen King. I love your work so much, but there are times when I wonder if you're worth it.

Dreamcatcher is not an utterly terrible book. It is not nearly as painfully dull as The Tommyknockers, but it is not good either. While it has its moments, there is also a lot of unnecessarily gross gore, and the plot is...not good.

The book is the story of four friends--Henry, Pete, Jonesy, and Beaver--who come together once a year at a remote hunting cabin to spend time together and celebrate their childhood friendship. Although they've grown apart, they are also bonded by more than just the times they spent together as kids--they have a fifth friend, Duddits, who is very, very special. Although Duddits appears to be just a man with Down's syndrome, he is actually a LOT more. While the group are spending time out in the woods, a man wanders into their camp, displaying some very odd symptoms. Pretty soon, the four find themselves involved in a situation that could have effects the world over...a situation that their friendship with Duddits may somehow have prepared them for.

Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it? Well, start throwing in alien fuzz, and ass weasels, and an entity called Mr. Grey, and things start going off the rails. Then add a batshit crazy army colonel bent on hiding the truth at any cost. It starts to spiral out of control pretty quickly.

The characters are pretty likable, which is what saves the book from being irredeemable. Jonesy's lonely battle against Mr. Grey is one of the strongest parts of the tale, and I also enjoyed the brief glimpses of their childhood times together. Each of the friends is well-defined, and I had no trouble identifying with them or rooting for them. Some of the secondary characters are less effective, though I liked what little we saw of Duddits's mother.

The movie is not great either, though the performances are about as good as possible. Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Timothy Olyphant (Olyphantastic!), and Damien Lewis star as the four friends, and Lewis's creepy turn as Jonesy is pretty cool. Morgan Freeman and his eyebrows chew every available piece of scenery as he romps and stomps in the role of the crazy colonel, while Tom Sizemore plays it cool as the colonel's assistant. There's also an interesting performance from Donnie Wahlberg (or as I like to call him "The-more-talented-but-not-as-attractive-Wahlberg") as adult Duddits. However, ass weasels are something that never needed to make it to film, and the plot is a bit too jumbled to really translate well. Much like the book, the movie is not exactly terrible, but I wouldn't necessarily call it good either.

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